Columbus unable to finish off Dallas

Mistakes, controversial calls have Crew feeling robbed

Jair Benitez; Eddie Gaven

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Getty Images

As much as the Crew blame the man in the middle
for their stunning 2-2 draw at FC Dallas on Saturday, the real culprit lies
within.

Sure, referee Jasen Anno had several controversial calls and
non-calls—maybe none more important than an apparent missed handball that led
directly to Eric Avila’s equalizer with mere seconds left in stoppage time to
deny the Crew three points—but if the Crew had played smarter and crisper, they
would have walked out of Pizza Hut Park a whole lot happier.

Watch: Full match
highlights

“It’s tough to lose on the last kick,” Crew coach Robert
Warzycha said. “If you give up a goal in the last minute, especially on the
last kick, you’re always going to find something that you should have, could
have done better. It was a lot of different things.”

For example, all Emilio Renteria had to do was dribble
outside of FCD defender Ugo Ihemelu and taken the ball to the Crew corner and he
likely could have iced the game. Instead, Rentería tried a fake inside and had
the ball stripped at midfield.

“The guy played well and took the ball away from him,”
Warzycha said. “[Rentería] should have passed the ball to somebody and gone to
the corner.”

The turnover led to another sloppy play when Emmanuel Ekpo
tripped Avila to set up a free kick from about 22 yards in the 92nd
minute. The ball was played short to David Ferreira and goalkeeper William
Hesmer was forced into a monstrous save at the near post.

Columbus was livid about the quick restart.

“The ref was counting the yards and he was ready to blow the
whistle then he let them play,” midfielder Adam Moffat said. “It’s really
disappointing, really disappointing because we were so close to winning it.”

The ensuing clearance sent the ball about 30 yards out and
that’s when all hell broke loose. The Crew’s Guillermo Barros Schelotto tried
to kick the ball downfield but it hit Avila. Schelotto screamed and signaled
for a handball instead of pursuing Avila and it cost the Crew dearly as the FCD
midfielder stepped into a shot that eluded four five Crew and kissed the left
upright before going in.

Anno was immediately under siege from all directions by a
gold wave. Hesmer raced out toward midfield to confront the official and
defender Danny O’Rourke was issued a red card for abusive language.

“We saw a handball before he took the shot,” Warzycha said.
“He used it to control the ball. The referee didn’t call it or didn’t see it.”

Moffat said there was an even bigger problem in the closing
minutes that saw FC Dallas’ unrelenting pursuit of the tying goal.

“When you give five or six free kicks away it’s going to be
trouble,” he said. “We’ve got to play smarter.”

The late goal capped a frustrating night for the Crew. Rentería was on the field because Eddie Gaven had to leave in the 72nd
minute with a split lip after being bloodied by Atiba Harris. There was no
foul.

“It was an obvious elbow,” Warzycha said.

Ekpo subbed for Robbie Rogers, who left at halftime after
sustaining a sprained ankle. Also, forward Steven Lenhart limped off the field with
a cramp in the 70th minute and was replaced by Jason Garey.

Good thing the Crew don’t play again until April 24.

Despite the tribulations and turmoil, maybe it was a just
result. The Crew were certainly outplayed in the first half and trailed 1-0
before Lenhart set up his brother-in-law Adam Moffat for the equalizer in the
52nd minute.

Moffat married Lenhart’s sister, Jennifer, in December, and
Lenhart finally got around to giving him a wedding present with a nice diagonal
ball in the box.

The goal helped Moffat erase the memories of his stinker
match against Toronto FC in the opener that included his breakaway shot that
was struck so weakly that even Bill Buckner would have stopped it.

“I’ve been working on my finishing,” Moffat said. “I was
fortunate to get that one on target. It was a great cutback by Steven.”

The Crew benefitted from Anno’s penalty call against FC
Dallas defender George John in the 81st minute for fouling Chad
Marshall during a free kick.

Schelotto was denied from the spot by Kevin Hartman but
scored his second of the season on the rebound.